Films & Architecture: “Play Time”

This week we revisit a classic, a masterpiece by Jacques Tati. In the movie, Tati depicts modernism’s problematic impact on the city and the way in which people interact within it.

The movie’s carefully considered environment shows characteristics of the modernist movement at that time: repetition and regularity (the result of industrialisation) are represented from the smallest objects in the interiors to the larger scale of the city’s urban plan. Enjoy this great movie and let us know your thoughts about Tati’s take on modernism.

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Films & Architecture: “The Fall”

is a visually very powerful film. It is the result of a tremendous effort from its director Tarsem Singh, who travelled around the world in order to find the right locations for each scene. The film includes footage shot in over 20 different countries, with places such as Taj Mahal, the Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town, or the Jardin du Luxembourg in . In fact, the mentioned “Blue City” in the movie, is the actual Jodhpur, an old city of Rajasthan, where local people painted their houses in blue colour thinking they would prevent the heat effects. 

It is not only about the diversity of these spaces but also the way that Singh is able to put all those elements together as part of a massive surrealistic world. A tour through some of the most amazing places in the world that we hope you enjoy and let us know your thoughts about it.

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Films & Architecture: “Dogville”

What if a movie is filmed in such a minimal way that your only reference is a plan view drawn on the floor. Then you would need to imagine all the missing information in a kind of mental extrusion of physicality. This is the method chosen by the Danish director to represent a parable occurring in a fictional settlement in Colorado.

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Films & Architecture: “24 City”

This Chinese movie by the acclaimed director cannot be considered documentary by having actors performing most of the scenes. However, it represents an attempt to show the dissociation between the rapid urban development and social behaviour of a population that seems to be a “victim” of globalisation.

The film is focused on a complex designed and deployed by the government with militar purposes, as a factory for producing and repairing mechanical elements for the army. This whole area became a city in itself where three generations grew up. Nowadays the future of this space will be to accomodate hundreds of luxury apartments, for what not only some modifications are going to take place, but the entire site will be demolished.

What do you think about this issue between physical environment and the social framework that constitutes a city? How should we consider this kind of mono-functional cities and what could be its future?

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Films & Architecture: “Old Boy”

This amazing South Korean film tries to express captivity and its consequences for an escaped hostage. A range of spaces, from underground rooms where the crime operates to luxury apartments owned by the leaders, reveal a mix of carefully prepared colours and compositions, with patterns on the walls, strong contrasts and several kinds of lighting atmospheres. Enjoy and let us know your ideas about architecture and captivity in the comments!  

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Films & Architecture: “Cloud Atlas”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Cloud Altas is the adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel by the same name. It follows six different story-lines, each taking place in a different time period, ranging over hundreds of years (from our past to future). Each era gets a careful development of space, and, as usual, the show their unique way of imagining the city of the future.

In fact, the story lines were filmed separately: while Tom Tykwer was working on those stories that take place in the 1930′s and 1970′s, the Watchowski Brothers were filming all the futuristic ones (which take place in the year 2321). Several famous buildings were utilised - let us know if you recognise any of them. Enjoy and as always, comment!

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Films & Architecture: “Underground”

Underground is the condensed version of a 5-hour series (originally broadcast on Serbian television in the 90′s) which takes place in Yugoslavia, showing the country from the beginning of WWII through the Yugoslav Wars. This theatrical version, directed by  , considered one of the master filmmakers of our time, utilises symbolic elements that require a strong knowledge of story to fully understand, and ends with a memorable finale, with the characters dancing on a floating island that separates them from the continent. This is an extraordinary film that we invite you to enjoy and comment on.

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Films & Architecture: “The Fifth Element”

Last week, our latest featured film showed New York in the ’60s - this time we move to the future, about 200 years from now. This film, directed and co-written by Luc Besson, shows a with flying cars and technological systems applied all around the human environment.

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts of how our cities will look in the next century!

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Films & Architecture: “North by Northwest”

Our latest movie in our Films & Architecture series is another ’60s classic, this time by the master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. In North by Northwest we see a New York in the heyday of its architectural glory, with one scene taking place at a newly constructed building. In fact, the last scene takes place in a “house” that, under Hitchcock’s instructions, was meant to seem designed by (in reality, the house was just another set design). The film shows a variety of urban spaces, and puts special emphasis on the contrast between the densities of  urban and rural realms.

As always, enjoy and comment!

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Films & Architecture: “The Cell”

The Cell, by Tarse Singh, is a visually powerful film in which every set is carefully prepared in terms of color, composition and  atmosphere. Ranging from subtle scenes to really baroque ones, the film is loaded with surrealist, sophisticated  imagery that helps the viewer experience the story with the characters.

As usual we invite you to enjoy these films, let us know your comments, and propose more for the list!

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Films & Architecture: “In Bruges”

In the Belgian language “brug” means bridge, and it’s because of the amount of them in the European medieval city that it took its name. A ”fairy tale f***ing town” is how Harry (Ralph Fiennes), the foul-mouthed boss in In  describes it. And indeed Bruges is a city full of fairy tale-like elements that weave through this crazy, sardonic, violent, and (in our opinion, awesomely) absurd movie.

Have you seen it? Do you know any other film fully linked to a specific city? Let us know in the comments below!

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Films & Architecture: “Inception”

This time we want to share a very contemporary film. An amazing story stunningly described by , in which dreams within dreams can be manipulated by “architects” who can construct an imaginary reality.

Imagine: being able, as architects, to create whole environments, just using our minds as the resource. Let us know your ideas in the comments below, and, while you’re at it, please let us know of some new films we can add to the list!

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Films & Architecture: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”


This week we will recommend you a really surrealistic film. ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, directed by Michael Gondry is a movie that takes place in a future where medicine technics allow people to modify and delete some memories. These changes are reflected in the space perception of the characters. The scenes morph and human scale is shrunk, buildings disappear and daylight turns into absolut darkness in seconds.

Enjoy the movie and let us know your comments. Do you think architecture can be described through memories? Any ideas about our memories and space perception?

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Films & Architecture: “Contempt”

In collaboration with Carlo Ponti, , one of the main representatives of the 60′s French film movement La Nouvelle Vague, adapted the Alberto Moravia novel Il disprezzo (A Ghost at Noon), written almost 10 years before, into Contempt. The result is a film where each scene is a composition in terms of colour, proportion, and contrast. And as an extra gift for us architects, most of the story takes place in and around the Villa Malaparte in island, a stunning house on a rocky coast.

We invite you to enjoy this classic and let us know your ideas about the movie, this amazing house and the relationship with the surrounding landscape. More after the break.

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Films & Architecture: “Batman”

This week we’re going to spotlight one of our greatest contemporary filmmakers, Tim Burton. In the 1989 film Batman, Burton generates a whole gothic environment, full of art deco and art nouveau buildings within . Locations were inspired by urban spaces from City, Los Angeles, West London, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, to Hong Kong (even though was a well-known nickname for New York City, before Batman was ever written).

If you didn’t check out our article on Architecture & Batman, do so now – and let us know which Director you think does Gotham best in the comments below…

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Films & Architecture: “Oscar Niemeyer – Life is a Breath of Air”

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By now, there’s no architect in the world unaware of ’s passing, or the legacy he left over his 104 years.

In honor of the greatest Brazilian architect of our time, we invite you to enjoy this interesting documentary, which shows how Neimeyer’s work, which changed the paradigm of architecture and went beyond any stereotype, was just as unique as his noble perspective on life.

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Films & Architecture: “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”

Going back to the times when cinema was recorded with no colours or sound, the German film “The Cabinet of Dr. ” by is a masterpiece that utilizes fully stylised sets with abstract spaces to represent different scenes. It’s considered one of the most influential movies of German expressionism, since many of the film’s unusual characteristics (from the geometric nature of the sets to the actors’ costumes) were decades ahead of their time.

Have you seen this classic? What do you think about how silent-era films depict space?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Films & Architecture: “Paris, I Love You”


This week’s film isn’t actually a movie in itself, but rather a lot of little films merged into one: “, I Love You”. Twenty shorts, each representing the 20 arrondissements – districts – of were filmed to show the French capital in its multiple identities (in the end, only eighteen made the cut). The work is an interesting attempt to use film to represent the many facets of a metropolitan urban area; it is also an exploration of the different ways we can see a city, depending on our perceptions and experiences within it.

Have you ever walked through Parisian streets? Does “Paris I Love You” capture your experiences of Paris’ districts? Let us know in the comments below.

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